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‘Little Shop of Horrors’ deserves cult status

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It’s easy to see why “Little Shop of Horrors” has become such a cult musical comedy and especially a popular show for small spaces.

There’s the rock-n-roll-infused score, the story of a meek flower shop employee whose success turns unmanageable, and a cartoonish, carnivorous plant that thrives on blood and flesh.

The show requires a minimal cast. Nine strong, vibrant performers – including the disembodied voice of Gene Corbin as the plant Audrey II – are in the Enchanted Rose Theatre-Aux Dog Theatre co-production.

The players – and the unseen band – fit snugly in the Aux Dog’s space. What’s more, so do the audience members, and that translates to an intimacy and pleasure of watching this spirited, vital co-production.

The excitement leaps at you from the get-go. Three singers – Chiffon (Sandra Williams), Crystal (Hannah Guzman) and Ronnette (Klarisa Thornton)) – are a girl group/Greek chorus who introduce the fantastical story, set in Mushnik’s flower shop, which is on the skids on New York City’s Skid Row in the ’60s.

Seymour (Tim MacAlpine), the sad sack employee, acquires a strange plant that turns around Mushnik’s business and Seymour’s life, initially for better and then for worse.

Seymour and fellow employee Audrey (Jessica Osbourne) become an item but only after she endures the physical and emotional pain of her sadistic dentist-boyfriend Orin (Bryan Lambe). Seymour’s success spoils the romance. Lambe is a very talented character actor; he also assumes multiple small roles in the show, among them a bum and several promoters who want to make a name for Seymour and Audrey II on TV, in print or by selling cuttings from the plant.

In Mushnik, Pat Shortell creates a delightful stereotype of a beleaguered Jewish storeowner.

Director Vernon Poitras, owner-artistic director of Enchanted Rose, has assembled a cast whose members mesh so well in their singing and acting roles. The only vocal weakness was when Seymour and Audrey speed-sing their way through the song “Call Back in the Morning.” The lyrics were a blur.

Hats off to puppeteer Michelle Gammill, who operates Audrey II, Norm Fletcher’s tight band and Lorri Oliver’s costume designs.